Biggest Solar Flare Of 2013 Just Released, Bigger Solar Flares Likely Coming Soon

The biggest solar flare of the year just erupted from the Sun on Thursday, April 11, right at 3:16 AM EDT (0716 GMT). The powerful solar eruption was also accompanied by a large coronal mass ejection (CME), and caused a temporary radio blackout on the Earth, according to NASA officials.

Image Credit: NASA/SDO
Image Credit: NASA/SDO

The solar flare registered as a M6.5-class flare, which means a somewhat mid-level flare, less powerful than the occasionally seen X-class flares.

“This is the strongest flare seen so far in 2013,” NASA spokeswoman Karen Fox stated. “Increased numbers of flares are quite common at the moment, since the sun’s normal 11-year cycle is ramping up toward solar maximum, which is expected in late 2013.”

Video and images of the solar flare were captured by NASA’s sun-watching Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The SDO spacecraft is one of the few direct and detailed ways that we currently have to observe the Sun and monitor space weather.

“Today’s M-class solar flare was about 10 times weaker than X-class flares, which are the strongest flares the sun can unleash. M-class solar flares are the weakest solar events that can still trigger space weather effects near Earth, such as communications interruptions or spectacular northern lights displays. The solar flare triggered a short-lived radio communications blackout on Earth that registered as an R2 event (on a scale of R1 to R5),” stated in its coverage.

“When aimed directly at Earth, major solar flares and coronal mass ejections can pose a threat to astronauts and satellites in orbit. They can interfere with GPS navigation and communications satellite signals in space, as well as impair power systems infrastructure on Earth.”

NASA is continuing to track the CME in order to see if it is likely to cause any further radio blackouts in the coming days.

“Humans have tracked this solar cycle continuously since it was discovered, and it is normal for there to be many flares a day during the sun’s peak activity,” Fox said.

Solar activity is expected to significantly pick up by the end of the year, likely leading to the regular release of solar flares far stronger than this recent one.

3 thoughts on “Biggest Solar Flare Of 2013 Just Released, Bigger Solar Flares Likely Coming Soon”

  1. Richard Moseley

    Given how Sol’s output is colloquially known as space weather, the lack of any comments here is emblematic of the disinterest alarmist websites like this possess about the science of a planetary process over 4 billion years old, during which only our star has been constantly present. At 99.8% of all matter in the Solar System, the idea that Sol’s wildly fluctuating magnetic field has no bearing on local planetary climates is absurd, especially given the chaos experienced in 1859 to telegraph systems across Europe and North America as astronomers witnessed our star burst into a hyperactive frenzy over the same three days. Local cosmology is to global climatology as the global climate is to our local weather, and the new (Sir Edward) Maunder minimum that’s defining Solar Cycle 24 will stretch the credibility of AGW arguments over the decades to come until the whole idea finally snaps.

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